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Mavs Rule
01-21-2008, 12:09 AM
How the heck did Carmelo receive more votes than Dirk?

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Stein Line's All-Star Starters
By Marc Stein
ESPN.com
(Archive)
Regular readers know that we resist any temptation to fill out an All-Star ballot. That is the fans' domain, for starters. We also have our unassailable objectivity to protect.

However

With All-Star balloting finally closing this weekend, it's that time when we like to share the starters we would have selected with our annual reserve choices to be made next Friday from the same lists that the coaches are looking at after the starters are officially announced.


EASTERN CONFERENCE


CENTER

Fans' likely choice: Dwight Howard

Stein Line choice: Howard

At last report, Howard had racked up more than twice as many votes (1,456,898 to 701,253) as his closest pursuer: Shaquille O'Neal. But, hey, what's one more lopsided loss for Miami? A runaway is simply unavoidable when Howard is averaging 22.4 points and 15.2 rebounds in his fourth season, setting up the man-child to be the NBA's first 20-15 man since Moses Malone all the way back in 1982-83. And there's more: If Howard can hike his field-goal percentage back above 60 percent, he'll rank as just the second player in league history -- joining that Wilt Chamberlain fellow -- to put together a 20-15-60 season.


FORWARDS

Fans' likely choices: Kevin Garnett and LeBron James

Stein Line choices: Garnett and James

These two have an even bigger lead than Howard over the likes of Chris Bosh, Paul Pierce and Caron Butler and who's going argue? These two can justify even a million-vote cushion. No one's paying attention to the most pedestrian statistical production we've seen from KG for a decade because he's having such a massive impact as the spiritual spark at both ends for a team that lost just three times in its first 32 games. As for LeBron, just check out his January numbers: The 23-year-old is averaging 32.6 points, 9.8 rebounds, 7.1 assists and 2.4 steals in a 7-1 month for the Cavs, who have quietly won in Dallas and San Antonio since Christmas.


GUARDS

Fans' likely choices: Dwyane Wade and Jason Kidd

Stein Line choices: Kidd and Chauncey Billups

Even if he's playing hurt and still playing at a high level -- even though he's the guard that the people most want to see -- I just can't pick Wade when his team, entering the weekend, hadn't won a game since before Christmas. I'd rather start two point guards in the East backcourt, especially when Billups is having such a tidy season: 17.4 ppg, 7.2 apg and .450/.398/.901 shooting from the field, 3-point line and free-throw line, respectively. And when Kidd -- in spite of 36.3-percent shooting, New Jersey's own underachievement and a questionable mustache -- is almost averaging a triple-double (11.5 ppg, 10.7 apg, 8.6 rpg) in what looms as the first 10-10-8 season since Magic Johnson's in 1982-83.


WESTERN CONFERENCE


GUARDS

Fans' likely choices: Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady

Stein Line choices: Bryant and Chris Paul

Sacrilegious as it feels to choose Paul over Steve Nash, I think I have to. Not just because I promised Chad Ford on a recent podcast that I would, but because of the Hornets' Paul-inspired success while he bids to become the first player ever to average 20 points, 10 assists and three steals. Throw in a 2-0 mark against Nash's Suns and, as a perennially loud banger of the team-success drum, I'm obliged to vote for Paul even with the two-time MVP running his team as flawlessly as ever. At least Kobe made half of the equation easy, with his noticeably ramped-up D and general excellence in fueling L.A.'s unlikely rise from the gloomiest of Octobers to its best extended spell since Shaq left. (PS -- Special mention does go to the injury-haunted McGrady, who made the rare admission this week that he'd forfeit his starting spot if the rules in place allowed him to because "there's other guys definitely having better seasons than me.")

FORWARDS


Fans' likely choices: Tim Duncan and Carmelo Anthony

Stein Line choices: Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki

Interesting that Duncan, after all the fuss about his initial placement on the ballot as a center, was virtually tied in total votes with Yao Ming at last report (see Box 2) when it was widely assumed that TD would have no shot to be a starter unless league officials did what they did and took the unusual step of consenting to move him back to his usual forward classification. Perhaps Duncan's vote total wouldn't have been that high if he wasn't moved to the forward section on the online ballot, but you still had to scour the centers for his name if you were voting via the traditional paper ballot. So we wonder: Is Duncan, routinely branded as the NBA's Big Boring, more popular than anyone realizes?

The Nuggets' Anthony, meanwhile, is in this discussion on merit as well as popularity with a game that's clearly becoming more well-rounded -- Utah's Carlos Boozer is deservedly in this mix as well -- but Duncan and Nowitzki remain the two most feared forwards in the West, despite slightly dipping numbers and what you'd call shaky starts by their teams' annually high standards. (Nowitzki's November struggles, for the record, were overblown, so you had to know there was no way I could fill out even a theoretical ballot without Nash and Dirk. Right?)


CENTER

Fans' likely choice: Yao Ming

Stein Line choice: Marcus Camby

Yao. Camby. Amare Stoudemire. Andrew Bynum. Tyson Chandler. Chris Kaman. Andris Biedrins. Al Jefferson. Brad Miller, even. The West is suddenly teeming with eye-catching centers, which only emphasizes the fact that a couple guys on the ballot (Pau Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge) definitely should not be listed as centers. An extended debate here is probably pointless given Yao's history of ballot domination; he's going to be the West's starting center for the foreseeable future. But we'll at least mount a mild challenge to that inevitability by favoring Camby's difference-making defense over Yao's ups-and-downs throughout a rough half-season in Houston and the growing progress Amare is making in his recovery from a third knee operation in October.

Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here.

Mavs Rule
01-21-2008, 12:21 AM
(Nowitzki's November struggles, for the record, were overblown, so you had to know there was no way I could fill out even a theoretical ballot without Nash and Dirk. Right?)


What I don't get is how he put in this glaring error saying he wouldn't fill out a ballet without Nash and Dirk, yet he picks Kobe and Paul as his guards. He must have changed his mind on them after he wrote this, then forgot to correct this sentence. To err is human, I guess.

Dirkadirkastan
01-21-2008, 12:36 AM
As for LeBron, just check out his January numbers: The 23-year-old is averaging 32.6 points, 9.8 rebounds, 7.1 assists and 2.4 steals in a 7-1 month for the Cavs, who have quietly won in Dallas and San Antonio since Christmas.

Yeah they marked the win column that day, but that was the ugliest game I've seen all year. They played horribly and won just because Dallas played worse. Both sides shot around 36%, but neither team seemed to actually play good defense.

Special mention does go to the injury-haunted McGrady, who made the rare admission this week that he'd forfeit his starting spot if the rules in place allowed him to because "there's other guys definitely having better seasons than me."

Hey, you billion Chinese kids. Are you listening?

fluid.forty.one
01-21-2008, 01:40 AM
23 year old LeBron is better than 23 year old Jordan.

and he's right that Dirk should start. Too bad experts don't pick the starters.

nashtymavsfan13
01-21-2008, 01:43 AM
Hey, you billion Chinese kids. Are you listening?

One of the best lines I've read in awhile, I actually laughed out loud.

horse900703
01-21-2008, 08:14 AM
dirk so close~~~

MavsX
01-21-2008, 08:32 AM
dirk so close~~~

nice job stealing that MVP signature from "stevallica"

Flacolaco
01-21-2008, 08:38 AM
[BITTER CYNICISM]

How many rings is starting the All Star game worth again?

[/BITTER CYNICISM]

jthig32
01-21-2008, 09:23 AM
What I don't get is how he put in this glaring error saying he wouldn't fill out a ballet without Nash and Dirk, yet he picks Kobe and Paul as his guards. He must have changed his mind on them after he wrote this, then forgot to correct this sentence. To err is human, I guess.

I think it meant he couldn't fill out a ballot with both Nash and Dirk not on it.

Just not very well worded.

Mavs Rule
01-21-2008, 10:40 AM
I think it meant he couldn't fill out a ballot with both Nash and Dirk not on it.

Just not very well worded.

You think he would have used the word "or" between Nash and Dirk instead of the word "and", if he meant that. Oh well, its all semantics anyway. ;)

antoinewalker
01-21-2008, 11:40 AM
i guess carmelo is more popular than dirk.